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New guidelines to help mitigate Australia’s growing trauma crisis amidst COVID-19 pandemic

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An organisation has released a set of guidelines meant to help people experiencing trauma crisis receive appropriate and informed services from concerned sectors, including healthcare professionals, legal practitioners, and even law enforcement.

Besides being a blueprint for organisations to follow in their work, Blue Knot Foundation’s Organisational Guidelines for Trauma-Informed Service-Delivery aims to “revolutionise trauma-informed responses to the growing social impacts of the trauma crisis in Australia, particularly given the global health pandemic.”

In a media statement, the Blue Knot Foundation said the guidelines will “inform diverse audiences, from the human services and legal sectors to health professionals and first responders, to understand how to consider the possibility of trauma in people’s lives and work in ways which empower recovery and minimise the risks of additional trauma.”

The document is the foundation’s update to the 2012 document titled Practice Guidelines for Trauma-Informed Care and Service Delivery – which set the standards for organisational practice towards trauma mitigation. This new iteration will factor in the advances, conceptualisation, and implementation of a trauma-informed approach over the past 8 years, and its universality beyond clinical treatment.

Moreover, the new document will also account for the changing landscape of service-provision within the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These updated trauma-informed organisational guidelines are being released in a very different context to that of 2012. COVID-19 has not only changed the service and care landscape, but also brought additional trauma to public awareness and individual and community experiences. Trauma experiences are being compounded and we must understand the impact this has on the need for trauma-informed service delivery and care,” said Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, Blue Knot Foundation President.

According to data from the foundation, over 5 million adults in Australia have experiences of complex trauma, which is repeated ongoing interpersonal trauma and abuse, often from childhood, as an adult, or both.

Traumatic injuries can also come in the form of single incident trauma, which includes bushfires, floods, accidents, assaults, and even the threat and reality of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have developed these Guidelines to help inform the lens through which organisations, staff and practitioners work – a lens which explores what has happened to a person on life’s journey rather than a purely biomedical approach,” Kezelman said.

“Trauma is pervasive and it is time our service systems embed an approach which not only acknowledges this but also uses it to inform a far more human response,” she said.

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